Tradewinds Exercise Kicks Off in Caribbean
By Army Sgt. Chelsea Barber
122nd Public Affairs Operations Center
ST. JOHN'S, Antigua and Barbuda, June 5, 2014 – Members of 11 Caribbean partner nations joined the U.S. and Canadian militaries in Antigua yesterday to kick off Phase I of Tradewinds 2014.
The exercise, hosted in Antigua and Barbuda, is designed to enhance defense force abilities in maritime security and disaster response training.
The Caribbean partner nations, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, deployed maritime, national police, and coast guard units to take part in multiple training events.
"Tradewinds is all about ensuring interoperability among Caribbean forces and advancing cooperation and coordination in various security and disaster-related scenarios," said Lt. Cmdr. Auden Nicholas, commanding officer of the Antigua Barbuda Defense Force's Coast Guard, and Antiguan co-director for Tradewinds 2014.
The U.S. military plays an important maritime security role in the region and worked closely with Nicholas and his staff in setting up the Tradewinds exercise.
"The United States, as far as we are concerned, is the critical partner in the Caribbean basin and the U.S. has provided tremendous support in safety and security within the region," Nicholas said. "It's very important that we maintain and strengthen the relationship with the United States."
Phase I of Tradewinds, considered the maritime phase, will last through June 10. It will focus primarily on security and countering transnational organized crime on the high seas, as well as training to improve the ability of the Caribbean partners to respond to natural disasters and provide humanitarian relief.
Several members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force are looking forward to the small boat operation training in particular, because a major acquisition project will add nine ships to their fleet in the next year, said Carlon Bethell, Senior Officer with the Force. With the addition of the ships, they will gain more awareness and Tradewinds will assist them in further developing standard operating procedures, he said.
The exercise also supports the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, a regional security partnership that has established the "Secure Seas" program. Some of the participating vessels are interceptors and patrol boats provided to partner nations. The crews of these vessels will train alongside members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy, which is also providing a fleet diving team and a maritime patrol vessel.
Tradewinds participants gain knowledge and experience in several areas of security and emergency response. But perhaps the most important aspect of the multinational exercise is the partnership and relationship building that each of the nations goes home with at the end of the annual event.
"Tradewinds is vital to the nations of the Caribbean, Canada and the United States in order to collaborate against common threats to our peoples and the way we live our lives, as well as to sharpen our collective responses to deal with humanitarian crises, natural disasters and pandemics," said Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, which administers the exercise.
"Like the other nations participating in Tradewinds, we place a very high value on this training and the understanding and cooperation it fosters," Kelly added.
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